Gaza tunes in to radio after Israel turns off the internet

Gaza tunes in to radio as Israel imposes internet blackout
4 min read
03 November, 2023
Israel has cut communication to and from Gaza. After Israel imposed an internet blackout and severed telecommunication links, Gazans have increasingly returned to radio transmission, as a last resort, to find out what's going on around them.

In the Gaza Strip, frequent disruptions to internet and phone services have left over 2.1 million Palestinians isolated from the outside world.

Despite the constant sound of nearby bombings, they are unable to access real-time news that could help them locate the source of these explosions.

Because of this, the residents of Gaza have turned to radio as their primary source of information about events happening beyond their homes.

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However, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has reported that radio stations in Gaza have gone offline due to ongoing bombings and fuel shortages.

To keep the local population informed, most radio stations in Gaza have resorted to broadcasting content from Al-Jazeera television and other Arabic channels.

"As we don't have electricity, we are unable to watch the news and see what's going on around us, but at least we listen to Al-Jazeera through the radio. We know what's going on, but we don't see anything"

For 34-year-old Fatin Saleem, internet access has been unavailable since the start of the conflict. As a result, her family acquired a battery-powered radio to keep her informed of the latest developments. 

Fatin explained to The New Arab: "I can understand Hebrew, so occasionally, I tune in to Israeli radio stations when the local ones are offline. But with no access to social media, I have no updates on airstrikes because this type of news is primarily disseminated there."

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Fatin, along with her two children and husband, evacuated to the southern Gaza Strip at the beginning of the war. She later learned from her neighbours that her house was destroyed.

"We have another house that was still under construction when the war started, I keep following the news just to make sure it was not destroyed, too,” she added. 

Huna Gaza: Palestinians have been forced to return to radio after Israel severed all telecommunication links
Huna Gaza: Palestinians have returned to radio after Israel severed all telecommunication links [Getty Images]

According to the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, there are currently around 24 functioning radio stations in the Gaza Strip.

These stations use traditional radio waves or online broadcasting to reach their audiences. Unfortunately, over 50 media institutions have been bombed and partially or destroyed during the recent aggression on the Gaza Strip.

This has resulted in the deaths of at least 11 journalists so far, as confirmed by the Committee for Freedom, which belongs to the Journalists' Syndicate. 

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On Wednesday, the internet monitoring group NetBlock reported that Gaza experienced another internet blackout, which had a significant impact on the last remaining major operator, Paltel.

This blackout left most residents without any telecommunications. Sadly, this was the second time in a week that Gaza was entirely disconnected from internet and phone signals.

More than 9,061 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks since the beginning of the war on October 7, including 3,760 children.

The Gaza Ministry of Health has issued a warning that both the Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City and the Indonesian Hospital in the north are at risk of losing power due to the main electrical generator being at risk of shutdown.

Urgent appeals have been made to oil-producing countries to assist by supplying the hospitals with the necessary resources.

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As the internet connections in Gaza started to fail, new alternatives were brought to the table.

Egyptian writer Mirna El-Helbawi initiated a voluntary project called #connectingGaza, which provided thousands of E-SIMs to people in Gaza.

According to her Twitter account, Mirna managed to connect more than 2,500 people using E-SIMs.

However, E-SIMs have limited coverage and require a minimum of telecommunications signals. This means that only people near the border could use them using Egyptian and Israeli signals. 

Osama Humaed, who is currently connected using an Israeli E-SIM, shared that he and his relatives purchased new radios to listen to the news.

"As we don't have electricity, we are unable to watch the news and see what's going on around us, but at least we listen to Al-Jazeera through the radio. We know what's going on, but we don't see anything," he told The New Arab.

Gaza residents have been grappling with a power blackout crisis since 2006 when Israel damaged the main electricity plant in Gaza following the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. 

Osama expressed that he never thought he would live in a time when he and his people would be so disconnected from the rest of the world, likening it to the 1940s with no television, no internet, and radios everywhere.

Abeer Ayyoub is a freelance journalist based in Amman

Follow her on Twitter: @abeerayyoub